The Social Operating System…

In computer lingo, an Operating System or “OS” as said in geek speak is the software which acts as the glue between the various applications, the computer hardware and various peripherals (e.g. printers, monitor, keyboard, etc).  Without it, your word processing application wouldn’t know how to print a page to a “printer” or save a file to the hard disk. Common examples of “modern” Operating Systems used by personal computers at this writing would be Microsoft Windows ™, Linux or Mac OSX ™.

What is interesting about this is that early computers did not have an Operating System as they were built to operate autonomously by performing a series of single tasks, much like a calculator. What becomes an interesting analogy is we humans also prior to the information age also operated in the same autonomous fashion performing a single type of task our entire working life.

However there has been a direct correlation between our “connectedness” and ability to break away from the social machine which drove our uni-task nature.  As we started with the hand carried written word amazes me is still in existence today (i.e. the mail).  Then we migrated though various closed systems like the telegraph and telephone, or unidirectional systems such as radio and TV which lacked the intrinsic ability to make an effective information loop.  However in the case of the “internet” which provides a means to transfer vast amounts of media rich data bidirectional in a cost effective manner.

So with the internet here do we as people need a [social] operating system?  Some people say Facebook ™ is that “system” as it provides the “glue” if you will to connect people by linking their “attributes” and allowing them to share information.  The important thing here is information in this case is knowledge and “knowledge” is the ability to do or achieve something.

Let’s look at Facebook ™ as it allows us to create “linkages” to form an organized cooperative much like a computer with its various pieces as noted above.  Where the word processor needs to know about the printer, music fans need to know about their favorite band’s new album, or the weather in the location to which they are traveling as it may have turned nasty in an unexpected manner.  Thus the “connected” person now realizes they posse the knowledge needed to not only successfully complete a task, however also be effective about it too.  Be it purchasing an album when freshly released on iTunes ™ or packing warmer clothes to deal with unexpected conditions.

However where will this take us?  Are the likes of Facebook ™ or Twitter ™ the end all, be all for the social OS?  Seems that there should be more to the mix then a couple one or two line comments which fly back and forth, or does there need to be more?  As people we tend to “self order” as our first goal is “avoidance” well in other words we try not to hit things or stay away from things which do not “align” with our goals.

In this very vein, the result of “avoiding” something is then to “align” with the things which support our goals or perceived “wants“.  In this case we adopt a “push-pull” affect where we “push” away from things we which to avoid.  This action assists us (at least in our view at the time) to then and “pull” towards an “alignment” with those things which we perceive do “attract” us towards our goal.  Keep in mind the Lindy Effect as success tends to draw more success which is a key supportive driver in this model.

In the final phase of “attraction” we strive to support the goal of “alignment” or the pulling force we form to create an “attraction” with the social aspects which we feel again will support our perceived wants or needs.

To summarize, if one were to code a “Social OS“, they would need to build in a means of “avoidance” or the ability to steer away from social connections which do not support their goals.  Second, it must be able to allow for “alignment” or the leveraging of commonalties for a “common” purpose.  Finally, it must provide for the capability to “attract” others with like attributes to allow for the creation of effective or critical mass based upon the common attribute.

Once these factors were assembled together and released as a whole OS, this would than set into motion a reinforcing viral loop.  As “avoidance” pushes toward “alignments” pull, in turn driving the propensity of increased “attraction”.  In deed we do live in interesting times and they become more so every day.


About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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